You wouldn’t expect a movie star to ask the TV networks not to air his movies. But Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign in the California governor’s race has prompted him to do just that. Reuters reports that Schwarzenegger’s advisers have asked the networks not to air any of his films between now and the Oct. 7 election, lest any of the 250 other candidates invoke federal equal-time regulations and demand similar amounts of free airtime.
It’s happened before. When George ”Sulu” Takei ran for Los Angeles City Council in 1973, his 14 opponents demanded equal time after a local station ran a ”Star Trek” rerun in which Takei appeared for 17 minutes. And when Ronald Reagan ran for governor of California in the 1960s, he left his gig as host of ”Death Valley Days” so that the show wouldn’t have to be yanked off the air. (When he ran for president in 1980, stations pulled reruns of the series.) In recent years, equal-time regulations have been relaxed, but officials at ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC all told Reuters that they had no plans to air any of Schwarzenegger’s films over the next few months.
Only broadcast outlets are subject to the equal-time rules. So you still might be able to see Schwarzenegger’s movies — or, for that matter, reruns of ”Diff’rent Strokes” (starring candidate Gary Coleman) or old ”Saturday Night Live” episodes featuring Father Guido Sarducci (a.k.a. candidate Don Novello) — on cable.